Whether it’s working with chemicals or working at a height, the window cleaning profession can prove risky. Window cleaners face a number of hazards each and every day and as part of health and safety, measures should be taken to help reduce the risk posed to you, your business, your employees and members of the public. From being aware of common hazards to making sure that you have the right insurance policies, here are our health and safety tips for window cleaners:
Make Sure You, Your Employees and the Public are Covered
First things first, it’s important to make sure that you have the right insurance policies for window cleaners in place to protect your employees, the public and your business in the case of accidents. Employer’s liability insurance is a legal requirement for any business that has one or more employees and will provide financial protection and compensation in the event of claims made by employees for injury or illness at work. Public Liability Insurance works in a similar way, however, it is not a legal requirement – though highly recommended – and provides protection against claims made by members of the public for injury, illness or third-party damage caused by your business activity.
Be Aware Of Common Hazards
Every trade has its hazards, but window cleaners can face a unique set of circumstances that offer unique hazards. From falls and slips to electrical hazards and issues with the weather, some of the common hazards you should be aware of include:
- Slips, Trips and Falls – Tripping over buckets, slipping on spilt water and falling from ladders are common hazards. Reduce the risk by ensuring buckets and tools are kept safely out of the way of workers and the public where possible and always clear any spilt water, or place warning signs around the spillage. As a worker, you can opt for slip-resistant shoes.
- Electrical Hazards – Window cleaners work with water constantly which poses a risk when it comes to electrical devices, supplies and lines. You should always remain at least 10 feet away from any electric sources and avoid using extension poles or ladders in close proximity to any direct supplies.
- Weather Conditions – When cleaning windows outside, you and your employees run the risk of exposure to a wide range of weather conditions, from wind and rain to blistering sunshine. Ensuring that appropriate care is taken in the sun, avoiding work in high-wind situations and wearing warm, protective clothing in cold weather can help prevent illness or injury caused by weather.
- Tools – The tools in use throughout window cleaning might seem harmless for the most part, however, this isn’t always the case. Razor scrapers, for example, pose a risk of not only damaging the window itself, but of slicing, cutting or even stabbing you or your employees, or members of the public if dropped. Never leave any scrapers unattended, wear safety glasses and gloves and ensure that you always keep them closed or covered when not in use.
- Chemicals – The use of chemicals is common in window cleaning, with different solutions offering different benefits in different situations. Understanding the nature of the chemicals and what they can be used for, their toxicity levels and how to appropriately handle them with the right PPE will help to reduce the number of accidents or illnesses caused.
Conduct A Site And Equipment Assessment
Before starting on any job, it’s important to do a risk assessment to ensure that you or your clients aren’t going to be at risk while you conduct your job. You need to pay attention to the environment around you to determine any hazards and act accordingly. Check the weather, any chemicals you will need to use and whether you have the right equipment for it, the heights at which you’ll be working, the condition and safety of ladders and their use, risks of slips, trips and falls, any nearby electrical equipment or sources, the condition of your equipment and, of course, the public around you. From your assessments, you can act accordingly and set up any safety measures including cordons, warning signs, equipment and other protections you may need.
Use The Right Protective Equipment
Having the right PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and fall arrest equipment will ensure the safety of you and your employees. For PPE, you should ensure that you provide appropriate protection for the job you or your employees will be doing, including safety helmets, hard hats, gloves, protective footwear, protective clothing and high-visibility vests. Masks may also be needed when working with chemicals and should be of a relevant standard.
Fall arrest equipment is crucial for any employees working at a height. This may vary depending on the height at which the employee will work, but typically include individually-fitted safety harnesses connected to energy-absorbing lanyards and anchor points. These should be regularly assessed for condition and maintained to ensure they are in good repair.
Use The Right Access Equipment
The level of access equipment you may need will ultimately depend on the job you have. If you’re just working on residential two-floor homes, you may only need a good, sturdy ladder. For taller buildings, this may require powered or roped access. You should ensure that all anchorages are suitable and in good condition, and ensure that any employee operating electrical access equipment is fully trained and qualified to do so.
For more information on the risks associated with being a window cleaner, or how our insurance policies can help protect your business against claims and financial loss, feel free to get in touch with a member of the team at Ashburnham Insurance on FREEPHONE 0800 1696137.